Phillies At Reds Live Blog

Phillies At Reds Live Blog

Video of Jimmy's lead off homer and Burrell and Jenkins back-to-back blasts after the jump.

Sorry for the late start... went out for lunch and got attacked by a bunch of red birds. Okay not really but there was traffic. I flip on the game about 10 minutes late and the Phils are up 3-0.

Rollins led off with a solo shot followed by a Howard double and a Pat the Bat blast. 3-0 Phils.

Hamels starts off by letting the first two batters on base. Maybe they shouldn't have given him a 3 run lead. Then Freel steals third as part of a double steal. Nice.

Cole goes to a full count with Brandon Phillips before the Reds get a fielder's choice to knock in a run. 3-1 Phils.

Dunn pops up behind home plate and Jeff Keppinger knocks in another run with a single. Hamels gets out of the shaky first with a lead intact. 3-2 Phils after one.

Alright, the chicken breast club has been devoured and now my typing and amazing wit shall improve going forward. The final 8+ frames after the jump.

Top 2nd: Pedro leads off the second. While I'm not sold on his bat, I definitely enjoy having a man named Pedro on our squad. As I typed that, Feliz strikes out.

Ruiz pops out to center and Hamels knocks a single up through the middle. Hamels batting average is probably better than Pedro's.

J-Roll gets another single. Victorino comes up with 2 men on and strikes out to end the inning. I'm not feeling Shane's shades. Maybe he needs new eye wear to get out of his funk.

Here's Jimmy's lead off HR:

Bottom 2nd: Did anyone hear the other day when Wheels said "I love that Dick Pole"? Anyone?

SICK play by Carlos Ruiz on a perfect bunt by Ryan Freel. Incredible throw by Chooch to end the inning.

Top 3rd: Chase has a weak at bat, falling behind an grounding out with a "swinging bunt." Whatever that is.

BURRELL GOES DEEP AGAIN. Pat's second home run of the game. 4-2 Phils. As the Sarge put it, "Wow."

Bronson Arroyo may want to consider that rock career as he just gave up back-to-back homers to Burrell and Jenkins. 5-2 Phils. (Pedro ruins the fun by popping out.)

Bottom 3rd: Nothing interesting. No runs scored, which is good.

T op 4th: Nothing interesting here either. Sorry, got side tracked by seeing Freddie Mitchell's name in a weird news story.

Bottom 4th: Cole seems to have found a nice rhythm after that shaky first. Encarnacion goes down swinging.

Bako got a double but Arroyo failed to get a good bunt down. Inning over. Phils still up 5-2 and this one is moving along pretty fast.

Top 5th: Hey, there's Johnny Bench. That guy just exudes baseball.

Shane comes up to lead off the inning and loops in a single to right. Alright Shane! Now steal second.

W ow. Very nice play by second basemen Brandon Phillips to get Chase at first. +1 Phillips. Shane advances to second.

Ryan Howard likes the K.

Bottom 5th: This live blog really fizzled. I got caught up reading about Glen Macnow's cheesesteak list.

Hamels has been cruising since that bad first inning. Also, I think Tom McCarthy has been a real nice addition to the TV crew.

Top 6th: Jenkins grounds out to start of the inning.

Oh man. Pedro Feliz ALMOST hit a HR. So close... he ends up with a double.

Carlos gets hit by a softball to bring up Cole Hamels with two on and one out. Hamels gets a nice sacrifice down to move the runners to second and third to bring up Jimmy. And that will do it for Mr. Rockstar Arroyo.

Young James gets walked on four pitches to load the bases for the struggling Shane Victorino. Shane will bust out of his slump right here.

Damnit. Shane gets some good wood on a ball but it goes right to the thirdbaseman. End of inning. No runs.

Bottom 6th: Oh no. Cincy does that "Everybody clap your hands." Ugh.

Video of Burrell and Jenkins back-to back blasts:

The final out of the sixth was a bit scary. Howard fields a sharply hit grounder about 8 feet back from the bag and instead of taking it himself he makes Cole work for it. Scary. But Cole gets through six with a nice lead.

Top 7th: Chase leads off with a strange at bat in which it looked like he may have rolled over on his ankle. Someone get that man an icepack, pronto.

Howard and Burrell go down without much of a fight to end the inning.

/stretches

Bottom 7th: The Phils have Rudy See-An-Ez up in the pen. Harry and Wheels keep talking about how Cole doesn't have his best stuff today but he's still leading anyway. They are correct.

So Taguchi has replaced everyone's newest favorite Phillie, Pat Burrell. So caught a pop up for the first out and Feliz fields a ground out for the second out.

Hamels gets through the 7th with a 1, 2, 3 effort. If the pitchers spot comes up next inning I think Hamels will be done for the day. Solid outting from our ace.

Top 8th: Jenkins pops out, Feliz singles, and it looks like Hamels is done as Dobbs has a bat in the on deck circle.

Wheels informs us that Charlie has been sick the past few days and is not feeling well. When Charlie doesn't feel well, nobody feels wel.

Ruiz gets Feliz over to second and Dobbs is up with two outs. Dobbs hits it right back to the pitcher. End of inning.

Bottom 8th:

In to pitch the 8th:

Flash gets the first out with a pop to center. Dunn comes up and gets sent walking back to the dugout with a nice K. Wheels calls the pitch a "snap dragon." Hmm. And the inning ends with a pop up to Jenkins. Alright Flash!

Top 9th: Jimmy grounds out. Shane swings at some bad pitches for out number two. And a pitching change/double switch to face Utley. This game makes me want to take a nap.

Utley gets some wood on it but right to second. It's Brad Lidge time!

Bottom 9th: Lidge gives up what looked to be a bomb to left, but Encarnacion must have just got under it for a very long fly out.

Christ. What the hell is going on here.  This game should be over. Taguchi couldn't catch a pop to left that would have ended it. They give him an error. Shit, here's Ken Griffey Jr.

Lidge is clearly not giving Griffey anything to hit. !@#!@$@#$@#%@# bases loaded.

Javier Valentin comes up with the bases loaded.

As Harry points out, "just five minutes ago this game was really comfortable." Yeah, not anymore.

AHHHHH. Wild pitch or passed ball or something and the tying run now stands on second base.

It looked as if he threw ANOTHER wild pitch but the guy at third decided to stay put. Full count.

STRUCK HIM OUT. Phils win. Phils win. Phils win.

Final: Phils 5 Reds 3

Did they really need to make us sweat like that? Anyway, big win leaving Cincy with a split and heading into Shea with some momentum.

High fives!

Beau Allen, Taylor Hart prove they’re scheme fits, outlast competition

Beau Allen, Taylor Hart prove they’re scheme fits, outlast competition

Plenty of people outside the Eagles’ organization — and probably a few inside — doubted that Beau Allen and Taylor Hart would be able to play in Jim Schwartz’s aggressive 4-3 defense. 

But Allen and Hart never doubted themselves. 

“I think for whatever reason, we got brought in to two-gap and I think we got labeled as two-gappers, and for whatever reason, that kind of stuck,” Allen said. “And when people think of two-gappers, they think, ‘This guy will stay on blocks and aren’t as athletic.’ I guess what I’m trying to say I think there’s a different perception between guys that two-gap and guys that play in the defense we play. 

“We’ve known all along that we can do this. And I think all the guys in the locker room have known that. It’s just kind of flipping that switch in your brain and getting used to a new mentality and scheme and being comfortable in it.”

Over the past month, they’ve shown they can indeed fit in Schwartz’s defense. 

Allen and Hart were drafted in the seventh and fifth rounds, respectively, in the 2014 draft. Allen was seen as a prototypical nose tackle and Hart a 3-4 end. While Allen played in an attacking defense in college, Hart had never played a 4-3 tackle in college or the pros. 

Still, they have both seemingly earned spots on the Eagles’ 53-man roster. 

“I hope that the play I’ve done out here in these three preseason games has shown that I’m not just a 3-4 guy,” Hart said. “I can play both schemes.”

For a long time, veteran free agent pickup Mike Martin was considered not just a roster lock, but also a rotation player on the defensive line. He worked as the third tackle for a lot of the offseason before hurting his knee. He missed a couple weeks and was recently cut. 

So how did Martin go from being a contributor to off the team?  

“The knee just never came back,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “It just never bounced back, and it is hard. It's tough for players and veteran players like that. You're making decisions that are kind of out of his control.”

With Martin gone, the top two backup tackles appear to be Allen and Hart, while undrafted rookies Destiney Vaeao and Aziz Shittu appear to be on the outside looking in.

With a roster spot already likely locked in, Allen will play in the preseason finale against the Jets, where he joked he hopes to pad his stats. Hart’s preseason is already over. He has knee and ankle injuries that will keep him out for the Jets' game, but Pederson said Hart will be ready for the opener. 

Ready for the opener? That sounds like Hart has already won a job. 

“I didn’t hear that,” Hart said. “Well, we’ll see what happens.”

Allen and Hart roomed together during their rookie seasons and remain close friends. They also worked incredibly hard this offseason to pickup a new defense and shed that “two-gapper” label. 

One guy who might not be as surprised about Allen and Hart’s success in the defense is the guy in charge of it. Back in early August, before the pair showed what they could do in a game, Schwartz was asked about them and said, “Don’t sell those guys short. Just because that's what they were asked to do doesn't mean [that’s] the only thing [they’re capable of doing].

Turns out he was right. 

Was there ever really that preconceived notion that they couldn’t play in this defense? 

“Maybe from you guys (media),” Hart said with a smile. “I believed in myself.”

It looks like that belief is paying off. 

Josh Huff has been talking to a sports psychologist

ap-josh-huff.jpg
AP

Josh Huff has been talking to a sports psychologist

One of the most frustrating Eagles in recent memory, talent has never been the issue for Josh Huff. The third-year wide receiver can create separation and runs well with the ball in his hands. He's a plus blocker, contributes on special teams and gives constant effort.

Huff makes big plays from time to time, but what really stands are the miscues. The dropped passes. The fumbles. The missed assignments. The only think that's been keeping the 24-year-old from carving out a bigger role in the offense making an impact is himself.

Apparently Huff realizes that too, because as he revealed to Turron Davenport for USA Today, the 2014 third-round draft pick has been seeing a sports psychologist. In fact, apparently he's been reaching out for a little help since last year.

“I have been talking to a psychologist about football,” Huff said. “I have been too hard on myself when dropping balls. I also know that it will happen in this league. It’s a long season; you’re not going to catch every pass. That’s what I had to realize.

“I did it some last year (sports psychologist), and it didn’t help me too much. The one that I have now, he’s amazing. He is helping me elevate my game. I had a pregame routine that I got away from but after talking to him, I started doing it again.”

Huff certainly seems to believe it's helping, but whether it will equate to results on the field remains to be seen. He had a big game against the Colts on Saturday, catching two passes for 60 yards and carrying twice for 10 and a touchdown. Of course, Huff dropped a ball against the Steelers one week earlier, and fumbled another against the Bucs in the opener.

If Huff can keep his head in the game, this Eagles coaching staff appears poised to find ways to get him the rock. They've been designing all sorts of screens and quick passes to make more use of what is arguably his best skill, running after the catch.

Of course, the first part of running after the catch is catching the football, and the second part is not fumbling afterward. You have the appreciate Huff's dedication to his craft that when he admits speaking to a sports psychologist, but it's only him out there on the field on Sundays.

Penn State season preview: Is James Franklin on the hot seat?

Penn State season preview: Is James Franklin on the hot seat?

There are certain corners of the Interwebs where things are said and written just for effect.

Perhaps you’ve heard.

That being the case, it should come as no surprise that one scalding take heading into this college football season is that Penn State coach James Franklin is on the hot seat.

It’s understandable if you consider the fact that the Langhorne native has finished 7-6 each of his first two seasons, or that he is a combined 0-6 against Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan, the three teams he absolutely must beat to succeed in the rugged Big Ten East.

(Also to be taken into account is that the Lions lost to Maryland two years ago for the first time since 1961, and to Temple last year for the first time since 1941.)

Take a step back, though. Consider that he is still dealing with the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal — that, specifically, the draconian NCAA sanctions left him with a threadbare roster when he arrived from Vanderbilt.

Consider further that his own athletic director, Sandy Barbour, has his back, and that he is entering just the third year of a six-year contract.

Hot seat? Well, maybe a little toasty, but nothing more.

For the record, Franklin declined to play along when asked Tuesday afternoon about any noise pertaining to his job. He said during the Big Ten coaches’ conference call that he was concerned only with the task at hand — Saturday’s season opener against Kent State in Beaver Stadium and the day-to-day machinations of his team.

“Focus on that, not anything else,” he said. “Not any other conversations or anything else going on. Focus on the things we can control.”

He has said on other occasions that he considers this Year One of his program, since he finally has a full complement of 85 scholarship players (or thereabouts) at his disposal. He and his staff have consistently brought in top-notch recruits, something best reflected at the skill positions.

The Lions, however, are painfully young (12 players with senior eligibility) and have a new quarterback (redshirt sophomore Trace McSorley), questions along both lines and little depth on linebacker. They are also facing a tough schedule, especially early. September includes visits to Pitt and Michigan sandwiched around a home meeting with Temple, and later they not only face the Buckeyes and Spartans but an always-respectable Iowa club.

So if they tank — if, say, they go 4-8 (not an impossibility) — then it is safe to say that Franklin might be in jeopardy. If they again piddle along in the middle of the pack, which seems more likely, he will almost certainly get another year.

McSorley, a smallish run-pass threat (at 6 feet, 201 pounds), would appear to be a better fit for Franklin’s preferred offensive mode than the departed Christian Hackenberg, a classic dropback type — particularly since new offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, formerly the head coach at Fordham, has brought his no-huddle spread attack to Happy Valley.

McSorley spelled an injured Hackenberg midway through last season’s TaxSlayer Bowl loss to Georgia, going 14 for 27 for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and he certainly has a pedigree. He was a rare four-year starter at Briar Woods High School in Virginia, leading his team to four consecutive state finals and winning the first three of those.

“Trace just has that gene inside him that just makes him a competitor, and just a winner,” said Wake Forest tight end Cam Serigne, once McSorley’s high school teammate.

That is literally true. McSorley’s dad, Rick, played football at Richmond, and a paternal uncle, Jeff, played at Marshall. But McSorley has seemingly taken that DNA and run with it.

In his very first high school game he led his team, minus its top two running backs, on a game-winning 88-yard drive in the final minutes. And in his career he won 55 of 60 games.

“He was kind of smart beyond his years,” Briar Woods coach Charlie Pierce said. “I’ve been coaching for 27 years and a head coach for 17 years at a couple different high schools, and I’ve only experienced a couple players that had a football acumen like Trace. Trace had the best, by far, at an early age.”

Now he will be entrusted with a unit that promises to be heavy on run-pass options.

“I think that’s going to be one of the best things of our offense,” McSorley said, “because the defense can in one sense never be right.”

He has a guy who can run in sophomore Saquon Barkley (a school freshman-record 1,076 yards last year) and a bunch of guys who can catch, headed by Chris Godwin (69-1,101-5 TDs) and DaeSean Hamilton (45-580-6 TDs).

But the line remains a question, and only one projected starter — right tackle Andrew Nelson — will open in the same position he filled a year ago. (The new left guard is Ryan Bates, a redshirt freshman from Archbishop Wood.)

The defensive line, which lost three NFL players in Austin Johnson (Titans), Anthony Zettel (Lions) and Carl Nassib (Browns), is likewise unsettled. Only end Garrett Sickels returns.

Linebacker Nyeem Wartman-White, a Philadelphia native, was lost for the season with a knee injury sustained in the 2015 opener against Temple. The fifth-year senior is back and will man the weak side, after playing the middle last year.

Jason Cabinda slid over from the weak side to fill the breach when Wartman-White was injured, and led the team with 100 tackles. He’s also back. So too is Brandon Bell (Mays Landing, N.J./Oakcrest High) on the strong side. He made 65 tackles last year despite “playing with two bad wheels” and “a shoulder that kept popping out,” according to Brent Pry, who was promoted to defensive coordinator after Bob Shoop left for Tennessee.

The secondary is likewise well-fortified, and includes cornerback John Reid, a sophomore from St. Joe’s Prep.

Bottom line: There are too many questions surrounding the Lions to believe they can challenge Ohio State and Michigan atop the division, and (perhaps) enough to drop them below the .500 mark for the first time since 2004. Split the difference, then. Figure that they remain a middle-of-the-road club, and that Franklin’s seat doesn’t become too hot to the touch.

Not yet, anyway.

Freelance writer Gordie Jones is a regular contributor to CSNPhilly.com.